Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 20 April 2021
Are you sometimes confused about all the nutritional information out there? Do you follow certain nutritional guidelines but aren’t getting the results you want? Today I am going to cover three nutrition myths that I come across on a regular basis that hold people back from the results they are hoping to achieve.
1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
What better way to make sure people are buying your product than to create a myth that breakfast should be at a specific time, that it’s the most important meal of the day, and that these foods called “breakfast foods” are what you should be eating.
Did you know that breakfast actually means “break the fast”? and this can happen at any time of the day?
When it comes to nutrition we have not evolved past our hunter-gatherer genetics. That means we had to forage food first, and then we could eat. Food didn’t magically appear on our table to be consumed from 6-10am. Our bodies are designed to be able to fast for several hours, or even a couple days.
And when we did eat it wasn’t processed carbohydrates like cereal, toast, bagels, or pancakes. It was often foraged roots, berries, vegetables, or animal meat.
I encourage patients to ditch the “breakfast foods” and just eat what I like to call real food. That could be vegetables, eggs, soup, or even leftovers. For more info on what I tend to eat for breakfast you can check out my previous articles here:
2. Eating fat will make you fat
The Canada Food Guide, our government, your doctor, and every diet program you have been on in the past has taught you this one. I think the reason why this myth has held up for so long is that it is partially true.
Let me explain why.
Excess calories will increase your body fat. So if you consume excess dietary fat, your body fat will go up. Where this myth falls apart is that there is a difference between dietary fat and body fat.
Body fat is not the same thing as dietary fat.
Body fat is just excess calories that your body stores away for later use. Body fat can be made from dietary fat, dietary carbohydrate, AND dietary protein, if any of them are consumed in excess.
Now imagine yourself at the movie theatre. You order the large bag of popcorn. You eat the whole thing mindlessly while watching the movie and a couple hours later when you get home you are still looking for a little something to eat before bed. Now imagine that large bag was full of almonds, or imagine that large bag full of chicken chunks. It would be impossible for you to eat the whole thing.
We are much more likely to consume excess calories in the form of dietary carbohydrate. This causes storage of sugar molecules in our fat cells by our old friend insulin. Our body fat goes up because we are eating too many carbohydrates. You become stuck in a vicious cycle where your appetite cannot be controlled. Unlike fat or protein, carbohydrate only satisfies your appetite short-term and a few hours later you want more.
Dietary fat in contrast is very satiating. Eating good, fat-rich foods, like the ones I recommend to my patients, will satisfy your hunger for a long time even in small amounts and as a natural side effect will keep your weight in check.
3. You can get enough probiotics in yogurt
Is it true that yogurt is a source of probiotics? Yes, it is.
But to extrapolate that you can get “enough” of them without clear parameters on what you need them for, you are falling into a trap.
In someone who already has a healthy microbiome, no digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation, loose stool or diarrhea, heartburn, or nausea, they have never been on antibiotics, they don’t drink chlorinated water, they have no stress, they get enough sleep, and they are not dairy intolerant, yes yogurt is a good choice for their probiotic needs.
But those aren’t the patients I see.
Prescribing them yogurt as a good source of probiotics is like telling them to go shovel a hole with a spoon.
Now I would love to hear from you! What is a common nutritional guideline that you think might also be a myth? Leave a comment below and I’ll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesday!
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